System Shock 2: A game that changed the world but failed commercial success

My best friend shared some of his games with me. It was a big bunch of Cd cases on the top of my table. I had some work to do and didn’t checked what games there are. Some days later, oh well it was one of these boring afternoons after school as I wanted to calm down a little bit from my schoolwork. I saw the big tower of cases on my desk again and checked what games he gave to me. On the half way through I’ve read an interesting title. System Shock 2? Didn’t I played a game with a similar title already some years ago? You need to know, it was the year 1999 and I didn’t had access to the world wide web yet. But I did remember! System Shock, the game I always started playing but never finished in all these years since it was too scary for me as a child. Well, maybe this second game might be less scary and more enjoyable. And so I started the installation process. What now follows is a description about my first hours with the game. Very close and very personal!

other articles of interest
Mod-Ready System Shock 2
System Shock Music Download Page
System Shock 1 Speedrun Complete

The intro of the game was pretty cool, even if I have to say I saw better intros already in other games on other platforms.

I started a new game and landed inside a train car. My goal was to join the UNN, a military organization that is responsible to keep the peace in the universe in which System Shock takes place. My character should be prepared for his duty on the UNN Rickenbacker, the ship that will secure safety for the Starship Von Braun. And as I left the car, a nice voice told me what to do. So I checked the underground area. Wow, it’s the 22st Century and there still is lying around a pushed trash can. Shouldn’t there be a cleaning robot to remove the trash? Nevermind, I entered anti gravity shafts! You’re read right: anti gravity shafts that brought me to another floor. The gentle voice told me to enter the UNN recruitment center. A cold droid helpers voice inside, introduced me to the basic tutorial section which I then entered straight.

Welcome to the Basic training! The first thing I’ve learned was to switch between Shoot and use Mode. Wow, this was pretty cool. I couldn’t remember any other FPS that had such an inventory system. Very interesting to me was the idea of an inventory system that doesn’t pause the game while searching for an item. Later I should learn about the problematic with that kind of inventory system.

Leaving the basic training behind, I entered three more training courses. The Psi course was the most memorable one. It allowed me to pull items far away from me into my direction and to fire plasma with the power of my mind and with the help of a little tool called the Psi-Amp. In the Navy Training, I’ve purchased Handgun Ammo from a shopping terminal after as the trainers voice told me that it’s possible to buy all kind of tools and ammo in shops throughout the game! That was weird!

The next 20 minutes included to choose a branch of the military, followed by selecting first skills for my character in three training years. I must admit, I didn’t knew much about each skills of my choice, except for abilities like Endurance or Strengh. It’s obvious to a role-playing gamer like me how they affect my character, but what the hell was cyber-affinity? Nevermind, the next cut scene showed up and as you may guess, something goes very very wrong!

^ This video is great, because it reminds me on how I was sitting behind my monitor as I watched this phenomenal horrifying cutscene that prepared myself for the horror that I was going to face soon and that I could never imagine to experience someday.

Why don’t you listen to this music tune from the game while reading the next bit of my article?

It was supposed that I wake up on the Rickenbacker, but now I woke up on the Von Braun? Looks like the responsible administrative section made a mistake? As an broken antenna crushed into the glass separating me from the hollow space, I got introduced by this Janice Polito to hurry before the glass breaks and I get sucked into space. I found a wrench on a dead body and removed the debris that blocked the ladder. As I ran down the corridor everything around me broke or explodes as I barely made it to find a access card to proceed and an audio log by a co-worker with a door code. I entered the code and got distracted by a woman screaming. Through the Glass, I saw a woman fleeing in terror from an weird person that then shot her in the back with a shotgun. Damn, I couldn’t help her since the glass didn’t allowed me to do so. I almost forgot the vacuum and continued my escape through a narrow connection shaft. After I recharged and inserted a dead powercell, a bulk door opened and I escaped the doomed section in which I woke up.

The place here was a mess. Dead crew members everywhere, apparently killed by others. Sweet! Upgrade units to improve my character. This is a first-person shooter with a skill system? Double sweet! Never played something like that. An elevator platform brought me up to the second floor of the area. It was pretty fun to explore this new section of the ship, to hack doors, to ransack dead bodies and to get a second access card to leave this sealed area once more. In one corpse, I found a Psi-Amp and selected it, but then I realized that I got not only one Psi-Ability. Maybe because I picked the job at the Navy. As I used the access card on the next locked door, I definitely wasn’t prepared for what followed.

Watched down two long corridors to my front and right, hearing someone babbling strange sentences and listening to his exhausted breath. I opened the inventory and wished to exchange the Psi-Amp through the wrench in case of emergency. But while I was into switching the weapons a door nearby opened and one awful deformed man ran at me straight and hit my face with his very own wrench! I screamed, walked slowly backwards the door and got hit by that dude a second time! I left the inventory mode and used the elevator back down, switched weapons and moved up again. The dude was gone and I didn’t heard any noise as I slowly surrounded a pillar. But there he was, starring into my face with his dark eyes. I screamed once more and started to swing my wrench in despair! As he died, I remember that I hit his falling body two or three more times before I realized that he is dead already.

I combine hours of full despair, sweating and heart-attacks as I progressed. The action-driven music switched with claustrophobic environmental tunes. The scary panting of mutants around corners and the many very long corridors despaired me even more. Never could play it longer than 20 minutes at once. The monsters that spawned behind me and kept silent until I turned around where the most shocking moments I had.

I must admit, I died so much and feared every move and needed a godmode cheat to proceed in my very first run through. I never died from that point on but I still couldn’t bare the games horrifying tension. I still got shocked and surprised. The most trouble I had while returning to floors which I already cleaned from all monsters. Monsters respawed and you couldn’t be sure when you ran into another bunch of human-alien-hybrids thirsty for your blood now and then.

Overall, the game deserved more commercial success as it had, since it’s one of the most immersing and one-of-its-kind gaming experiences ever created.  If you find a copy of the game then play it. I promise you to never regret the hours you may spend together with the game.

About acantophis3rd

My name is Joey and I'm an active Lets Player on Youtube for more than 8 years now. I'm playing and writing about games of my childhood & sometimes even step into the world of modern gaming.
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